Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) celebrated its highly anticipated Great Cruise Comeback in the U.S. with Norwegian Encore’s inaugural visit to Icy Strait Point, Alaska. NCL’s newest ship sailed from Seattle on August 7, on her maiden voyage to Alaska.
Norwegian Encore is the first to berth at the new Wilderness Landing pier at Icy Strait Point, built in partnership between NCL’s parent company and Huna Totem Corporation, owned by around 1400 Alaska Native shareholders with ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area.
A double ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on August 10 to officially open the new Wilderness Landing pier and the first of two gondola systems, the Transporter Gondola. Once completed later this summer, the Mountain Top Gondola will zip passengers to the top of Hoonah Mountain, with miles of hiking trails and panoramic vistas.
“Our return to Alaska is a monumental moment for not only NCL but for the state’s communities as well,” said NCL President and CEO Harry Sommer. “The absence of cruising last year was detrimental to these communities, which lost approximately $1.5 billion. Our return represents our continued commitment to Alaska and to the well-being of the destinations we visit. Our investment in Icy Strait Point is providing our guests with more opportunities to experience and understand the natural and cultural beauty of the destination and its people.”
As a vehicle-free zone, the new Wilderness Landing provides additional forest and beach areas for visitors to explore nature in all its glory. In addition, the new high-speed Transporter Gondola allows guests easy access to Adventure Landing, Icy Strait Point’s first pier, and home to the Historic Salmon Cannery dating back to 1912.
“Since Icy Strait Point’s inception, we’ve strived to balance the needs of our Alaska Native community with those of Alaska’s growing cruise industry, and this development was a natural step for us,” added Russell Dick, CEO of Huna Totem Corporation. “We are grateful to Norwegian for believing in our vision, and we hope our sustainable model can lead the way for positive expansion of the cruise visitor industry in Alaska.”
With miles of private beaches and temperate rain forests, Icy Strait Point offers NCL passengers a glimpse of authentic Alaska. The island also has the most accessible viewing platforms for the coastal brown bear in Southeast Alaska, on top of whale watching, kayaking, and the world’s largest zip line. Passengers can also immerse themselves in the local culture, with native traditions and dances, oral histories, and cooking classes.
Norwegian Encore will also anchor in Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, before returning to Seattle to continue her season of 7-day voyages to Alaska through October 16.